Magazine article American Banker

Discover Unit Sues Amex, Claiming Infringement On' Cash Back' Trademark

Magazine article American Banker

Discover Unit Sues Amex, Claiming Infringement On' Cash Back' Trademark

Article excerpt

By FICKENSCHER, LISA

Heating up the already litigious credit card climate, the Discover card program has filed a trademark infringement suit against American Express Co.

Discover's owners say their rights to the term "cash back bonus" were violated when American Express introduced a product in August called the Cash Back Card.

Discover, a unit of Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co., further accuses American Express of misrepresenting Discover's products in promotional materials.

The suit, filed Nov. 24 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, seeks to stop American Express from offering any product using the term "cash back." It does not specify financial damages.

"We feel that we made an enormous financial investment in the cash back trademark, (which is) the defining quality and advantage of the Discover card," said Beth Metzler, a spokeswoman for the Riverwoods, Ill.-based unit.

American Express "offers a cash rebate program similar to what's offered by Discover card," Ms. Metzler said. "We believe the use of 'Cash Back Card' will dilute the value of our cash back bonus trademark and cause consumers to be confused."

Discover said it has owned "cash back bonus" since 1989, three years after the Discover program began as a venture of Sears, Roebuck and Co.

Gail Wasserman, an American Express spokeswoman, said her company is reviewing the complaint and had no response to it.

In marketing material, American Express said its Cash Back Card offers "double" the cash back of Discover. …

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